When someone develops an addiction, it is rarely due to the addictiveness of the substance alone. While physical dependency plays a role in drug addiction, there are a wide range of other factors that make a significant contribution to whether or not someone will struggle with abuse. Genetic factors, cultural environment, and social influences all contribute to addiction but one of the strongest connections is mental illness.
It is very common for people with addictions to also suffer from various mental health problems including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The combination of mental health issues and addiction can create a very complex problem that requires special treatment to resolve. Because mental health issues and addiction are often connected, there are a number of rehab facilities that cater to both problems.
Increased Risk for Addiction
One of the reasons that mental health issues have a strong relationship to addiction is that they can actually increase the risk of someone abusing drugs. Someone who has an illness such as depression or bipolar disorder who is not receiving adequate treatment might seek out their own ways of self-medicating. People with symptoms of depression often begin drinking as a way to mask their feelings of sadness and give them temporary relief. They might also seek stimulants such as cocaine to give them a feeling of energy and confidence.
Those with anxiety might look for depressants or sedatives that calm their feelings of stress and tension. People with mental disorders can also be less inhibited and more likely to show risk-taking behavior such as engaging in illegal drug abuse or drinking to excess. This represents another factor that can quickly lead to substance abuse and eventually a serious addiction.
Abuse Can Cause Symptoms of Disorders
Although pre-existing disorders are often the cause of the relationship between addiction and mental health issues, the connection can also work the other way around. People who develop addictions often begin to exhibit symptoms of depression, anxiety and even schizophrenia. The level of depression or anxiety that addicts experience is often indistinguishable from an actual mental illness. This is another reason why the instances of people with both addiction and mental health problems are so high.
About fifty percent of people with an addiction have a psychiatric disorder and for those with a disorder about twenty percent suffer from an addiction. Drug abuse can cause symptoms of mental health problems because sudden withdrawal can lead to emotional breakdowns and even hallucinations similar to that of schizophrenia. Alcohol and drug abuse can lead to changes in the brain that can cause mental or personality disorders.
Drug abuse can cause chemical deficiencies such as a reduction in the amount of serotonin in the body which can lead to disorders like depression. Some people can have a genetic vulnerability to developing a psychiatric disorder and an addiction simultaneously.
Treatment for Addiction and Mental Disorders
The relationship between addiction and mental illness is so strong and common among many individuals that there are specialized facilities that treat both issues. To treat both problems, a person must first abstain from drug abuse and go through a period of detoxification. Eliminating the substance from their body can help to distinguish which of their symptoms are due to abuse and which are caused by mental illness.
The addiction and the disorder must both be treated at the same time otherwise the risk of relapsing is very strong for individuals with each problem. People with both addiction and a mental disorder often require extended treatment to resolve both issues and ensure that they make a complete recovery.
When someone you are close to is going through an addiction or something else that is negatively affecting their life and the lives of those around them, then it is difficult to try and figure out exactly how to guide them towards help. People feel powerless over someone elses problems and this can develop problems in those around the ailing person. It is not uncommon that simply talking to the person one-on-one does not do the job. Usually, a more direct and profound approach is needed in the form of an intervention.
If you feel that you need to stage an intervention for someone you know who needs it, here is a brief guide that should help get you thinking and acting in the right direction.
1. Know What An Intervention Is
An intervention is not something that should be done quickly or on the same day that it is planned. It should be thought out and worked together carefully with the other people involved, be they friends, family members, colleagues or clergymen.
An intervention should basically be as such- first, it provides specific examples of destructive behaviors and their impact on the addicted/afflicted person and their loved ones; second, it should offer a pre-arranged treatment plan with clearly arranged steps, goals and guidelines; and third, it should also spell out clearly what will happen if the person does not accept treatment and help.
2. Get Help
Under these pretenses, one should be able to successfully plan out an intervention. It would also be wise to consult a professional, someone who is called an interventionist (there are professions for things like this) to get more help. Interventions sometimes spur feelings of resentment and betrayal on the part of the person who is being intervened upon. It is a charged situation. If you feel this may be the case, then please do consult a professional.
Consult relatives or close friends, maybe even someone you know who has also done an intervention too, for some advice. This kind of thing could prove invaluable to you when it comes time to get the intervention under way.
3. Gather Information
Why are you having the intervention in the first place? There should be a laundry-list of things that have happened in the past that have lead to the need for this, and they should be remembered when the time comes. Write them down and have them ready, and make sure that the other people who are present in the intervention have their own lists written down as well for more effect. This needs to be a sure thing, and with enough backing, the point can get across more easily.
Also, knowing what exactly is going on with the person helps a lot too. Gather information on what exactly the ailment is and know what can happen to a person under the circumstances. This should help you and those helping you prepare for anything that might come up during the intervention.
4. Stay Calm, Be Clear
When everyone is assembled and it comes time to confront the person about their problem, make sure to stay calm during the whole thing, being the center for the rest of the group to go off of. Be clear about why it is happening, what the conditions are, what has been going on, and most importantly, what the consequences of the situation are going to be, especially if the person does not agree to accept help. With all these in order, and careful planning at your side as well as a supporting group of others, the intervention should go as intended.
5. Following Up
Once the intervention is complete and help is being gotten, it is important to let the others know who helped you how things are going now.
There are also things that may have to be changed in the everyday living of the household, if the person being intervened upon lives there. Not only does their live have to change, but those around them have to change as well.
Hopefully this helps you in getting your own intervention to happen. Good luck.
The disease of addiction forms quietly and elusively, being barely noticable to anyone, especially the person who is becoming the addict themselves. When it comes to any type of using, or drinking, the fact that an addiction is forming keeps itself rather hidden.
The Growing Addiction
When an addiction begins to grow, the problems start small and blend in with the scenery around them, so to speak. Maybe someone starts to get drunk a little more often, or appears to be high more and more, but the people they are partying with are getting crazy too so it’s no big deal.
People start to see less of them but assume they are busy. Meanwhile, the sickening person does not realize that they are getting loaded more often just in order to function. They don’t feel they “need” it quite yet, but are gaining more and more of a dependence on their substance of choice without really realizing it.
Then the problems start to get worse. A job gets lost, a friend is alienated, a DUI happens, grades start to slip, and the person starts to withdraw more and more from their life. People begin to worry about them, but have a hard time getting through. The sick person seems to be more and more resistent to those who want to try and help them.
Over time, the problems climax and it becomes glaringly obvious to anyone that there is something wrong. Maybe the person has no job now, has crashed a car, no freinds, been kicked out of the house and/or homeless. And yet they still cling on to the fact that nothing is wrong, or, yes, something is wrong, but they “just don’t know what.” Even more sad is the case of the person who knows exactly what is wrong but will not quit, because they feel like they have nothing else or just don’t care. Their health is failing and their money is gone. The power of an addiction is cunning, baffling, and truly powerful.
Going Into Detoxification
When it comes time for the viscous cycle to end, the first step is to get into a detox facility. Some people are so afraid of detox that they will forego it and keep using instead of dealing with the withdrawals. But fear not, detox facilities are made to ease someone through the withdrawal process. There is no way to make it painless, but it will be far less painful than trying to do it on your own. Doing it on your own is very much not recommended. People relapse so often when trying to detox on their own from substances due to the pain that is occuring.
When it comes to the case of alcohol, detoxing can actually be dangerous and needs to be done in the care of a facility. The alcohol is so ingrained in the body that without it, the body starts to go through powerful withdrawals which lead to things like seizures, delerium tremens and sudden death. Detox facilities know how to avoid these things and an alcoholic should get into one as soon as possible.
Not Just The Body
Detoxing is not just for getting the junk out of your system. The disease of addiction is one that can be extremely isolating, and an addict will start to think that no one likes them, that no one cares. In detox, sometimes it goes that it is the first place in a long time that they will find people who care and other who are in the same boat, making them feel less alone. This is extremely theraputic and gives the recovering addict a new sense of hope.
Detox is the first step to recovering from an addiction. When the withdrawals are done and the body is clean, it is time to get the mind and the soul worked on in the world of treatment centers, where caring and community continue. One a final, specific note, those who need to get into detox should avoid places that advertise themselves as “speedy detox.” These places use dangerous practices to get someone through the detox process and should be avoided.
Obsessive behavior is most commonly associated with obsessive compulsive behavior (OCD), a mental health condition in which a person is overly anxious about something which they believe their behavior can control. However, many of the signs of OCD have been linked with a variety of other disorders, including anxiety, eating disorders, addiction, and more.
Even if obsessive behavior is not associated with a diagnosable condition, it can still lead to problems in a person’s life. Regardless of the type of obsessive behavior or any associated condition, it is treatable, and it can be turned it into healthy behavior patterns instead.
What is Obsessive Behavior?
Obsessive behavior can be defined as behavior patterns with which a person has no control. In OCD, this might be repeatedly washing hands due to a fear of germs, repeatedly checking a door is locked to ensure the house is safe and secure, or hoarding items.
Studies have shown that at the basis of the unhealthy, obsessive behavior is the habit forming mechanisms in the brain. A person feels compelled to do something to ease anxiety, and it becomes a habit that is very difficult to break. There are other behaviors that likewise use the same mechanism and become a compulsion, such as the formation of an eating disorder or substance abuse.
What Problems are Caused by Obsessive Behavior?
One of the problems of obsessive behavior is that it often becomes intrusive, and can even damage a person’s relationships, career, and other elements of his or her life. When a person cannot function unless he or she completes the set number of behaviors he or she feels is necessary, it can take up a lot of their time.
Often, people with OCD find themselves perpetually running late, or even missing an event due to their obsessive behavior. Their friends, family, co-workers and bosses often lose their patience, leading to problems. Some obsessive behavior can even be more dangerous, leading to a person putting his or her life at risk. This could include feeling an urge to drink or do drugs, which can lead to addiction and other health problems, as well as further risky behavior.
How Can it be Treated?
Obsessive behavior can be changed to healthy behavior with treatment. The most common form of treatment is psychotherapy, specifically cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). The majority of people who undergo CBT find a reduction to their symptoms.
However, this form of therapy requires active participation by the patient. CBT differs from traditional talk psychotherapy by working to change behavior patterns, rather than solely focusing on the interior anxieties fueling the problem. Cognitive behavior therapy likewise works on many other mental health conditions that involve obsessive behavior and other harmful behavior patterns, including eating disorders and addiction.
Exposure and Response Therapy
There are various forms of CBT, but most therapists use Exposure and Response Prevention, also known as ERP, to treat OCD and related disorders. In ERP, a person is typically exposed via pictures, thoughts, or staged situations to the situation or idea about which he or she is anxious, such as germs or invaders.
A person then works on making the conscious choice to not engage in the obsessive behavior following the exposure. Many times, the person is provided with an alternative way to manage the anxiety, including learning healthy behavior that replaces the obsessive behavior. ERP and CBT can be part of a comprehensive therapy solution that also includes talk psychotherapy.
It is possible to overcome obsessive behavior and regain control over life. Through psychotherapy treatment, a person can understand the underlying problems fueling the obsessive behavior and learn healthier coping mechanisms and behavior patterns.
Addiction and alcoholism and mental health issues have a close relationship with one another. Many people who suffer from mental health conditions (such as depression, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or anxiety) turn to alcohol or drugs to self-medicate.
Alternatively, the chemical changes in the brain caused by drugs and alcohol can cause mental health problems to develop. If a person suffers from both a mental health condition and addiction, then he or she needs to undergo dual diagnosis treatment, which treats all underlying and co-occurring conditions concurrently.
Self-Medicating Mental Health Issues
When people find themselves faced with strong negative emotions or feelings, or have experienced trauma, they often turn to mood altering substances as a way to numb these emotions. Many people who suffer from a mental health disorder, including anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and post traumatic stress disorder, likewise abuse substances to self-medicate. However, the relief is merely temporary.
When the effects of the drug or alcohol subside, the thoughts, feelings or emotions come back, often even stronger. This leads to the person turning once again to drugs or alcohol, and a cycle is born. The abuse of alcohol or drugs increases the risk of a person developing an addiction. Additionally, because the person does not confront the actual underlying issue, it only worsens.
Drugs and Alcohol Worsen Mental Health Issues
Not only does self-medicating contribute to the development of addiction, the addiction can worsen the already existent mental health condition. Even if a person is in treatment for a mental health condition, his or her alcohol or drug abuse or addiction can cause the treatment to not be as effective. The drugs or alcohol can interfere with any medication prescribed by their doctors, including antidepressants or anti-anxiety medication.
Additionally, the person will often not be able to engage with the real underling issues causing the mental health condition, and the drug and alcohol abuse, due to relying on repressing their feelings and emotions through mood altering substances. They can also trigger new symptoms, or just make the existing symptoms worse.
Drugs and Alcohol Cause Mental Health Conditions
Mental health conditions are complex psychological diseases whose development depends upon a combination of genetic, biological, social and environmental factors. Scientists are still researching into the exact reasons behind the causes of mental health conditions. However, they have found that chemical imbalances in the brain, especially the neurotransmitters involved in mood, can cause a mental health condition to develop.
Drugs and alcohol affect these same neurotransmitters, namely dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. When these neurotransmitters become imbalanced, then it can cause a mental health condition to develop. Some drugs can also trigger psychosis in those already predisposed to the condition.
Breaking the Cycle
Mental health issues and addiction are often a cycle to which it can be difficult to know the instigator. If both issues are not treated concurrently, then a person will have a very high risk of relapsing. If a person self-medicates due to a mental health condition, and that condition is not addressed in treatment, then he or she will have a difficult time remaining sober. They will not have the coping mechanisms to deal with the emotions and feelings they have been repressing.
Therefore, in order to fully treat both alcoholism or addiction and mental health problems, a person needs to go through dual diagnosis treatment. This is concurrent treatment for both addiction and mental health conditions. There are several dual diagnosis treatment centers that focus on holistic treatment for all underlying and co-occurring conditions to reduce the risk of relapse and provide a more well-rounded and balanced recovery.